Statement of Sen. Jeff Sessions
Flow Control
March 18, 1997

I would like to thank the chairman of this committee, Senator Chafee for holding this hearing today to consider the issues of interstate waste and flow control.

I support the free market system and the efficiency, lower costs and other benefits competition brings to the marketplace. The movement of trash should not be an exception so long as the methods of disposal comply with the latest regulations regarding protection of the environment.

It appears to me that prior arrangements for limited flow control by communities who have invested their funds to build state-of-the-art waste to energy plants and environmentally sound landfills could be legitimate exceptions to this rule. Flow control authority was believed to be legal prior to the Supreme court case of Carbone v. Town of Clarkstown made on May 16, 1994, which held certain flow control authority to be unconstitutional. The real problem is that the decision threatens the ability of communities to repay bonds issued to fund their solid waste projects.

If the flow of trash needed to raise revenues to support the bond debt of a facility drops, then the community becomes responsible for paying the difference. This a serious question and it requires careful thought. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today as we discuss what can be done to deal with this situation.

The Huntsville Alabama Waste Authority has over one hundred and twenty million dollars in outstanding debt because of the investment made in its state-of-the-art waste to energy facility. Bonds were issued for the financing of this facility before the Carbone decision was rendered by the Supreme court and the plan relied on flow control authority by Huntsville to provide revenues to finance the facility.

The city of Huntsville believed flow control authority to be legal at the time when they agreed to enter into a contract with the Waste Authority to provide the new facility with a steady stream of trash to support itself. Without the ability to continue compliance with the contract to haul trash to this facility, the project will probably fail and the income necessary to retire the bonds will not exist. In any event, it will be the people of Huntsville who will pay if we do not enact limited flow control authority "grand fathering" protection to help those communities who relied on it to finance their solid waste projects.

I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today as we look for a reasonable approach to solving this problem, fostering competition while at the same time protecting those communities who made sound decisions to control their waste and took on debt based on their most current interpretation of the law.